Uebert Angel – Man of Gold or Man of God with double identity?

Uebert Angel

In different meetings with undercover reporters who identified themselves as Chinese criminals seeking to wash dirty money through the Zimbabwean economy, waxing lyrical, self-styled prophet and Zimbabwe government official, Uebert Angel who was caught on hidden cameras in the Al Jazeera investigation named ‘Gold Mafia’ assured them, they were in safe hands because unofficially, he is the number two man in Zimbabwe and has the full blessings of the president to sign agreements on behalf of Zimbabwe.

When they told him they wanted to launder over a billion dollars, Angel told them he has laundered several millions before, but never done billions, however, he could launder their billions, with his diplomatic red tape and the money would be delivered directly to his home and nobody would touch it.

He also assured them that they would have no problem at all freely buying and selling gold from Zimbabwe in the money laundering schemes.

The 40-something-year-old flamboyant British-Zimbabwean has always had controversies around him. Born Uebert Mudzanire, he lived in the UK before moving back to Harare to establish the headquarters of his church, Spirit Embassy.

Double ID cards

When in  March 2021 he was appointed Presidential Envoy and Ambassador-at-Large by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, issues came up in the news about his double identity.

News sources in Zimbabwe dug out his two national ID cards. The first ID card has the registration number 83-099297X83, and was reported to have been issued at the Zaka registry offices in Masvingo in 1996. The second card with the registration number 29-195587H83, was said to have been issued in Gweru in the Midlands a year later.

The date of birth on both cards is the same, September 6, 1978, but the card numbers are different.

The report indicated that he used the 1997 ID to secure a Zimbabwean passport with the number ZE 306043.

However, the news reports pointed out that his British passport, number 464932598 which was issued on November 6, 2009, had a different date of birth from the one on his Zimbabwe national ID cards. The British passport has March 4, 1972 as his date of birth.

The reports further said on March 9, 2021, he appeared before a Harare lawyer, Tichavona Mutebere, and made an application to change his name from Uebert Mudzanire to Uebert Angel Snr claiming he was born on September 6, 1978, a birth date inconsistent with his British one but consistent with his two Zimbabwean national IDs.

Interestingly, Angel’s biological brother, Samson Mudzanire, with national ID number 83-066977R83, was born on April 14, 1972. The reports are wondering how his mother, Rose Mudzanire, gave birth to two sons in 1972 within 40 days of each other.

Fake degree

In 2008 the US government published a list containing thousands of names of people who have obtained fake degrees, from Bachelor to PhD degrees from a diploma mill in Spokane, Washington State.

The United States Department of Justice through Operation Gold Seal published the list of fake degrees bought from the phony Saint Regis University, which was eventually shut down.

On the list is the name Uebert Mudzanire and beside it is listed BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration), but Angel has denied buying a fake degree.

On that list were hundreds of people working in the military, government and education sector of the US, and almost 10,000 people who spent $7.3 million buying phony and counterfeit high school and college degrees from the Spokane-based diploma mill.

According to the website spokesman.com that published the list, it included prominent American citizens working for sensitive government agencies. The list it reported included NASA employee Timothy Francis Gorman, who bought an electrical engineering degree using his e-mail account at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to correspond with the diploma mill, and US Department of Health oncology expert Frank S. Govern, who purchased a doctorate in health care administration.

A screen grab from the Al Jazeera investigations showing Angel and his assistant, British citizen, Rikki Doolan talking to undercover reporters.

National Security Agency employees David W. Barden and Barry A. Hester both bought degrees. Hester, who was a computer Web trainer and designer for the NSA with top-secret clearance, paid $1,187 for an information systems and technology degree, the list shows.

Eric Gregory Cole, who was a contract employee for the Central Intelligence Agency, paid $3,801 for a degree in information systems management. His top-secret clearance at the CIA was revoked late last 2007, months after his name was forwarded to the Office of Inspector General, according to one source, the report said.

Eight people who set up and operated the diploma mill, including ringleader Dixie Ellen Randock, were indicted and convicted of federal crimes. Randock, a 58-year-old high school dropout, was sentenced to three years in prison, according to the report.

The World Bank overview of Zimbabwe

In its overview of Zimbabwe last updated on March 30, 2023, the World Bank notes that Zimbabwe has strong foundations for accelerating future economic growth and improving living standards. 

The Bank admits that the economy has excellent human capital, comparable to that of upper-middle-income economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, although some skill shortages are emerging in some sectors. It also notes that, Zimbabwe possesses abundant mineral and natural resources that, if well managed, can support the country’s development objectives.

The Bank however states that Zimbabwe’s economic development continues to be hampered by price and exchange rate instability, misallocation of productive resources, high informality, low investment, and limited structural transformation. Economic growth has been volatile over the past decade. High inflation, multiple exchange rates, and unsustainable debt levels have increased the cost of production, reduced incentives for productivity-enhancing investment, and encouraged informality.

The Bank adds that high unsustainable debt and arrears to international financial institutions (IFIs) limit Zimbabwe’s growth potential. 

It indicates that real GDP growth is estimated to have slowed to 3.4% in 2022 from 8.5% in 2021 on the back of worsening agriculture conditions and macroeconomic instability. Due to low rainfall, agricultural output contracted by 14%, after growing at double digits in 2021. Triple-digit inflation constrained private sector demand, while fiscal austerity limited growth of government demand and investment. Among other things the Bank points out that mineral exporters benefited from high global prices and, together with tourism, contributed the most to overall economic growth.

“Inflation returned to triple digits, albeit declining since August 2022, fueled by broad money expansion and a surge in global prices. The war in Ukraine, through high food and energy prices, has exacerbated domestic inflationary pressures that emanated from loose monetary policy and quasi-fiscal operations. Annual inflation returned to triple digits in May 2022 and reached 244% in December 2022. However, monetary tightening, including sharp hikes in interest rates, and fiscal policy measures brought inflation down to 230% in January 2023. Despite still high inflation, the Central Bank reduced the interest rate from 200% per annum to 150% in February 2023,” the Bank said.

The Gold Mafia

The Gold Mafia undercover investigation by the AL Jazeera Investigative Unit, shows how deeply the ruling elite in Zimbabwe, working with money launderers, are destroying state institutions, and personally benefitting from the country’s natural resources.

So far two episodes of the four-part investigation have been released, two more to be released in the coming weeks.

By Emmanuel K Dogbevi

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